16 July 2012

Maria Riva's Blind Items Pt. 6

For those of you new to the game, Maria Riva gives lots of people funny nicknames in her biography about her mother, Marlene Dietrich, just barely obscuring their identities. In many cases, these blind items were still alive when Maria's book was published in 1993 and could have put up a stink had Maria been audacious enough to name them directly. This blind item is a piece of cake--especially because Maria includes not one but two photos of him--but I figured I'd get him out of the way.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. & Marlene Dietrich
The Knight & his Dame at the London premiere of Accused
During 1936, Dietrich was in London filming Knight Without Armour, and she coincidentally acquired an American lover who aspired to be knighted. Thus, Maria Riva calls him the Knight throughout her book, and we learn--thanks to Heidede's photographic memory--that Mutti mocked her lover's social climbing, questioning how a person with a rope-swinging, possibly Jewish father could ever become a Sir. If these hints haven't given it away, I regret to inform you that you're as thick as two short planks. The Knight is Douglas Fairbanks Jr., who eventually got the title he desired in 1949.

While Maria was apparently nibbling on her Norwegian roommate's brunost care packages at Brillantmont, Dietrich moved to 20 Grosvenor Square (address just included at Mapping Marlene Dietrich), in the apartment below her Knight's. By 1937, Marlene convinced her Knight to follow his daddy's swashbuckling footsteps and play the villain in a David O. Selznick feature. If I have to tell you the name of that film (The Prisoner of Zenda), go do something else because you're a novice!

Anyway, when Dietrich returned stateside to make Angel, her Knight followed. The two broke up at some point, but the Knight gave Dietrich something to remember (but unfortunately not regift): a gold cigarette case engraved with his nickname for her, Dushka, which Maria jokingly associates with Marlene's post-coitus ablutions. You can see a photo of it (the ciggy case, not the ablutions!) in the book, Marlene Dietrich: Photographs and Memories.

To read my guesses about Maria Riva's other blind items, click here!


  1. Yes, Douglas Fairbanks was one of the first lovers of Marlene well known. Maybe you know this pictures of Marlene and Douglas: first appear with German Fritz Lang; he would work with Dietrich in "Rancho Notorious"
    and in the second picture with Cedric Gibbons and Dolores Del Rio ...
    his partner in "Accused" and very good friend of Marlene (sorry, I can't copy the pictures, only links). Three friends, three lovers? in successive or simultaneous momnets?, who knows?
    Greetings and sorry for my English.

    1. There are several photos of Marlene & Douglas on Google Images, and a few of the two with Dolores (perhaps w/ Cedric Gibbons, too). I can look at Marlene-Douglas, Douglas-Dolores, Marlene-Dolores, and Marlene-Douglas-Dolores again and again. As for any lesbian rumors about Dolores, I consider it wishful thinking (understandable, of course) from Diana McLellan's book and won't believe it until I see a stag film confirming it.;)

  2. The actor was Robert Donat in the film Knight without Armour 1937 Robert Donat had suffered a nervous collapse a few days into filming and entered a nursing home; Dietrich threatened to leave the project if they replaced Donat they waited 2 months, until he got better and then they returned to work.

  3. I think perhaps it was Donat another word for Knight is Sir in the uk.

  4. As for Diana mclellan"s book a good book about Dolores Del Rio: Beauty in light and Shade by Linda Hall (new)

  5. Here's some confirmation that the photo in this post was indeed taken at the premiere of Accused. See this page from the 24-10-1936 issue of De Sumatra post.